Water is no issue
Refuting reports of China joining water wars between India and Pakistan by blocking a tributary of Brahmaputra River, Chinese officials said that Beijing is ready for a joint multilateral cooperation mechanism with India and Bangladesh to share the waters which is a major shift in its stand. It termed that the relations should not be affected by “imaginary water war”, adding that Beijing is unlikely to use Brahmaputra river water as a potential weapon. China is willing to have multilateral cooperation with India and Bangladesh to share the waters. The proposal is significant as China has no water treaty with India to share the river waters. The move by China to temporarily blockade the tributary to construct a dam sparked widespread concerns in India. China said that the reservoir capacity of the dam on the Xiabuqu River, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, is less than 0.02 per cent of the average annual runoff of the Brahmaputra so there would be nothing to fear of any reasons for any water war as envisaged in various media reports. It also clarified that the blockade to construct the dam does not target India, and relevant countries should not read too much into the move. Frankly, there is no need for India to overreact to such projects, which aim to help with reasonable development and utilisation of water resources. While it is understandable that India is sensitive to China’s water exploitation on the Brahmaputra as a downstream country, China is unlikely to use the waters of the river as a potential weapon. The Chinese authorities also said it is easy to understand the anger of Indian people as they read recent news reports saying China had blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra River, which is a trans-boundary river flowing from Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region into the northeastern Indian state of Assam and later into Bangladesh, serving as an important water source for the regions. As far as Brahmaputra waters are concerned it does not look the issue will turn into a weapon of war or tension between India and China and neither it has any similarities with Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan.